Monday, 18 January 2021

Omega Writers | Making a Plan for 2021

By Iola Goulton

It’s a new year, and for many of us that means New Year’s Resolutions and planning for the upcoming year.

I recently listened to an episode of the Novel Marketing Podcast, where host Thomas Umstattd Jr and guest James L Rubart were talking about planning in a military context. If an operation is executed as planned, why have a plan in the first place? 

 Because having a plan is evidence that you had an objective and worked towards that objective, whether you succeeded or not. 

In a military context, having a plan shows you thought about your campaign objective, of how many troops would be required, how you would get those troops to where they needed to be, how you would feed and house them, and what they would need to do when they got there.

The military execute their plan, then review that execution against plan.

  • What went as planned?
  • What didn’t?
  • Why or why not?
  • How can they improve the plan to improve execution?
We can do the same for our plans aka New Years’ resolutions. Okay, so a lot of our plans for 2020 didn’t happen at all for reasons outside our control (Exhibit A: the 2020 Omega Writers Conference). Some of our plans had to change (Exhibit B: the 2020 Omega Writers CALEB Awards). But there were several other plans I had which didn’t come to fruition either (Exhibit C: write a novel and lose ten kilos).

That’s normal for New Year’s resolutions, right?

Why do we continue to make New Year’s resolutions when we don’t truly believe we’re going to achieve those goals? Why do we set ourselves up to fail? 

 Perhaps the answer comes back to the military example. The point of the plan isn’t to achieve the plan. The point of the plan was to show not just that we had a mission or a goal, but that we also had a plan, a considered step-by-step approach to follow that would move us closer to achieving that goal. 

Perhaps the point of the plan isn’t whether or not we meet our goals, but the process of thoughtfully and prayerfully considering what we believe God is calling us towards and how we’re going to achieve that. 
  • What steps is God asking us to take this year?
  • What do we want to achieve this year?
  • How can we translate the goal or achievement into a practical and doable plan?
  • What might we have to do differently to work the plan?
For example, I buy a new diary every year. I choose a diary that has three views:
  • A week-to-view for organising my day-to-day work and home life.
  • A month-to-view page where I plan my blogging schedule.
  • A year-at a glance where I (in theory) record big picture things like daily word count goals.

My 2021 planner is a little different.

As well as the usual three views, it has eight pages for planning goals for the year, and another twelve pages for monthly goals. Each annual goal has space to plan specific tasks that will move me closer to achieving the goal. These tasks can then be copied to the monthly and weekly planning ages to help get things done. 

For example, I can show you my goal statement from three or four years ago where I met exactly zero of my goals. I think the reason was there were goals with no plan, no list of step-by-step tasks that would result in me achieving an overall goal.

Let’s take weight loss as an example.

There is no way anyone can lose ten kilos in a week short of having a limb amputated. Instead, we lose weight a bit over time—losing a quarter of a kilo a week will get us to that ten-kilo goal with a couple of months to spare. But even that quarter of a kilo isn’t going to happen unless we plan how we’re going to lose that weight.
  • Are we going to eat less/better, exercise more, or both?
  • How are we going to change our eating and shopping habits to eat less or eat better?
  • How are we going to change our daily or weekly schedule to exercise more?
The same goes for goals like writing a book or creating a website or building a social media following. We don’t write a book or build thousands of social media followers in a day. Our goals should reflect that.

Instead of saying we’re going to write a book, we should say we’re going to write 500 words a day or edit for half an hour a day, and plan how we’re going to fit that into our schedule.

Penny Reeve, President of Omega Writers, touched on this in her last author newsletter. She asked five questions to consider in planning our writing for 2021. The one that hit home to me was this:
What has held me back this year?
This one's a little more reflective. It requires us to be honest - really honest. It's too easy to poke the finger and blame circumstance (or COVID, or...) but what has really stopped you writing? Once you identify what it is, spend some time with your planner/diary for the new year and consider how you may be able to address these road blocks practically and realistically. And then put these plans in place.

So today I leave you with Penny’s challenge:

Spend some time with God and your 2021 diary. Prayerfully and practically plan* how you can address roadblocks and achieve the small daily or weekly steps that will move you closer to meeting your goal.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Iola, that's a great call, especially after the year we've just had. It's the time of year for planning and introspection, and small, steady moves toward progress usually work best for me too.